Moonlighter are found from Jurien Bay, Western Ausrtralia south to Port Phillip Bay Victoria, where juveniles inhabit estuaries and shallow embayments and adults occur on coastal and offshore reefs out in the open.
The Moonlighter forms part of the drummer family Kyphosidae, and has a rounded body with six vertical black stripes on a white to lemon base and darker yellow colouration on the upper body and dorsal fin. Juveniles show characteristics such as a more pointed snout, 1-2 large black ocelli (false eye-spot) at the rear of the body and are solitary on rocky shallow reefs. Adults may be solitary or in pairs. Moonlighter are opportunistic feeders, feeding on algae and a variety of small invertebrates from both the benthos and the plankton. They grow to a maximum length of 40 centimetres.
Other common names include Six-banded coralfish, Butterfish, Moonlighter Sweep.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
The Busselton Jetty has a resident population of Moonlighter, and are seen on a daily basis from the Underwater Observatory. This species has been observed in schools, pairs and also individually as they feed on the invertebrates and algae growing on the jetty piles. During the 2011/12 season an individual Moonlighter was observed many times joining a large school of resident Round-faced Batfish, possibly taking on the role of a cleanerfish for them. Juveniles with their large black eye spots are common, right through to the large adults.
Image by: Busselton Jetty Inc.